The United States military has added a new vessel to its powerful fleet of vessels. But this isn’t just an ordinary destroyer or scouting vessel, it’s an unmanned, self-driving ship that’s designed to hunt and detect mines, as well as enemy submarines. To learn more about this state-of-the art vessel and how it could reshape the Navy’s response to possible threats, keep reading.
Dubbed the “Sea Hunter” — in reference to its purpose of finding submarines and aquatic mines — the U.S. military’s new self-driving vessel is the largest of its kind. It measures 40 meters in length and is powered with not one but two high-end diesel engines. The Sea Hunter is said to have a top speed of 27 knots and can sail on the ocean for up to three months before needing to port.
The Sea Hunter is designed to directly engage in enemy vessels. In fact, it doesn’t even carry weapons. Instead, the Navy is planning to use it for the detection of submarines and mines — a growing threat to the U.S. military’s presence around the world.
Of course, the real beauty of the Sea Hunter is its self-driving technology. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) have been used extensively in U.S. military campaigns over the past decade. They allow the Air Force to exert its power without jeopardizing the safety of pilots and crewmen. Up until now, however, there hasn’t been a UAV/drone equivalent for the Navy. The Sea Hunter, however, seeks to change that: allowing the Navy to conduct non-combative operations using an unmanned vessel that is controlled from a remote location.
As explained by DARPA spokesman Jared Adams, Sea Hunter and similar unmanned vessels will “supplement” missions to protect soldiers from danger.
“For our military operations we want to make sure we have unmanned vessels like this to supplement the human mission so that we’re not putting people unduly in harm’s way,” said Jared Adams, spokesman for DARPA.
You might be wondering how much the Sea Hunter costs. According to the Navy, it spend $20 million on designing this innovative self-driving vessel, which is actually pretty low when compared to other military projects. Furthermore, it costs just $15,000 to $20,000 per day to operate — a fraction of the operating costs associated with traditional vessels. The Sea Hunter is expected to continue testing at the Navy’s 7th fleet base in Japan.
What do you think of the Navy’s new self-driving Sea Hunter vessel?